Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” is a sumptuous feast for the eyes according to film critics who just saw the film. The movie, detailing the life of the Emperor Napoleon (played by Joaquin Phoenix) and his relationship as both a ruler and a husband to Empress Josephine (Vanessa Kirby) is “a lot of movie” according to critic and writer William Bibbiani.
The film will premiere in a truncated two hour and 38 minute cut in theaters, while debuting a four-hour cut on Apple TV+.
Many critics cited the biggest flaw was that it felt like the time had been condensed. According to IndieWire’s David Ehrlich, “Napoleon definitely feels like a 4-hour movie that’s been cut to ribbons, but it’s SO funny during the first half when it’s all about Ridley Scott just reading Napoleon for filth and laughing at how embarrassing it is to be a man with ambitions.”
Scott commented in an October interview with Total Film on how he’s excited for fans to see both versions of the movie. ““What will happen is, we’ll screen [the theatrical cut] first with Sony, and then it has its run, and then the perfect thing is that [the director’s cut] goes to streaming, and we have four hours, 10 minutes,” Scott said, referring to the current length of the director’s cut, which is still in the editing bay.”
Interestingly, critics seem divided on the film’s tone, with some saying the film’s humor can veer on the camp side, while others aren’t finding humor at all. RogerEbert’s Brian Tallerico said, “I know comedy is subjective and I liked some of the choices Phoenix makes as Napoleon Baby Man (although needed more of them) but people calling it consistently hysterical saw a different cut than I did. Especially in the long final hour that is laugh free.”
Many are praising Joaquin Phoenx in the title role, such as Variety’s Brent Lang,” who said the actor “makes a lot of choices in #Napoleon, most of them good,” while Paste Magazine’s associate editor, Jesse Hassenger, said when Phoenix plays the character as “a lil weirdo…[it] really works.”
“Napoleon” will release in theaters on November 22. You can read other critical opinions below.